Growing up Jamaican is a real blessing! The fun we had and all the games we played as a child. Everyone and their cousins would be in the streets playing, or at each other’s homes. Jamaica offers freedom and experiences not common to other cultures. Children who grew up in Jamaica had the privilege of running between the trees, splashing in the river, and playing games unique to our country.
Here we describe some of these Jamaican games that will put a smile on the faces of persons who had the chance to grow up in Jamaica.
A favorite after school game is what we call ring games in Jamaica. Ring games involve several children in a circle, often holding hands. They would sing songs and adhere to the instructions of the song. Some examples of these songs are:
- ‘There’s a brown girl in the ring.’ When children would take turns going into a circle doing actions for everyone to follow, they would repeat this process until everyone has gotten a turn.
- Another example of ring games played in Jamaica is ‘bull in a pen,’ with a selected person in the middle, children would use their hand to form a pen, and it would be the job of the bull (person inside the ring) to try and get outside the ring.
Chinese Skip involves making a circular chain from rubber bands. With two persons at each base, one or two persons jump inside in a particular formation without falling or breaking the band.
Rundown and Catch
This game is a lot like ‘tag’, with some minor changes. Rundown and catch usually played in a big open space, allowing children to hide behind trees, behind cars, under the bed, pretty much everywhere. The chosen catcher then hunted each person until everyone was found.
Imagine children in the ball fields, setting up wickets and bases for a good game of cricket. Cricket is a favorite pastime, especially for communities with a lot of children: Bats, balls, good runners, and bowlers. That’s all you would need to get a game going. Adults would be seen observing games as the children; rave with excitement running up and down the field.
Hopscotch is another game played among Jamaican children. Children would use chalk to write numbers on the road pavement or concrete. One person would need to hop on the numbers on one leg or both depending on how the boxes are set up. At each time, they would be required to skip a block until someone falls or loses.
A game where actions are carried out based on hearing the statement ‘Simon Says’. If you act without hearing the phrase, you are automatically out of the game. This game is best placed with a lot of people and is seen as an obedience drill.
By far, a favorite among Jamaican children. Stuffing dried leaf trash in a juice box and using this box as a ball. Two persons are the throwings trying to hit the persons in the space between them. Players make every effort not to be caught. Dandy shandy is best played in a wide-open space where persons have the opportunity to run.
One, Two, Three, Red Light
With one person’s back turned to the other players, this player serves as a stop sign who counts to three and turns around on the red-colored light. Other players must try to get as close to the stop sign as possible before the stop sign turns around and catches them moving. If you are caught moving, you are out.
Do you remember any of these games or see any games you would like to try? You should try it! As you imagine growing up as a child in Jamaica.